Monday, May 17, 2010

How well do you know your characters? by June

I might have mentioned before that I think of myself as a “pantser.” I write by the seat of my pants, or so I thought. Lately, as I have been tacking this historical romance I find I can’t really pants it. There is so much research, if you want to be accurate, that goes into a historical.

First I needed to set the time that the book is to take place. I love Regency England, so that was a no brainer. Ah, but the Regency goes from 1811-1820. This was the time period that the Prince of Wales, later to become George IV, was the regent while his father, George III, was found to be mad and not fit to rule. Sometimes the rules can stretch a bit and you can get away with 1800 being still considered during Regency time, but I think you get where I’m going here.


No writing by the seat of my pants with this one.

Now, I can still write and fill in the specifics later, but you have to know your characters before you start. Where are they from? How did they get where they are? What secret is in their past that is preventing them from getting what they want? Whew, and that’s just the start!
Lets not forget the setting, should it be London, or at a country estate? Since I’ve been to London, again, no brainer.

So I started to write. I had my time, I had my setting, but then there were subjects that kept coming up.

Then, as it happens, there is a conflict in the story. The hero reacts a certain way. I know why he acts this way, because it’s his character, but what made him that way? And the heroine. She is so independent. What made her that way? So, I find myself actually sitting down and making notes about stuff that I know will NEVER get in the book but I have to know this stuff so the reader will understand why the characters act the way they do.

My YA stories were nothing like this, so does that mean I knew them less because I could just write them by the seat of my pants? Nope. They are just different, which means a different approach to the writing, and a different approach to knowing my characters.

Thanks for reading,


Terry Odell said...

Writing historicals would scare me to death. I have enough trouble researching the contemporary for my novels. Of course, I suppose you don't have to worry about the technology being outdated before your book comes out. :-)

I research as I go. I imagine I'd be stopping every other paragraph if I tried historicals.

Debra St. John said...

Hey June,

That's what scares me about writing historicals...the research...and what happens if I get it wrong!

Good luck with your project!